EntreMed recruits a key Celera man

Development chief at gene firm jumps to Rockville neighbor

EntreMed steals key man from neighbor Celera

May 03, 2001|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

EntreMed Inc. said yesterday that it had hired a top business-development official away from its high-profile Rockville neighbor, human genome sequencer Celera Genomics Group.

Neil Campbell, the new vice president of corporate development at EntreMed, was senior director of commercial development for Celera.

There, he helped the company find pharmaceutical and other customers for its gene-related databases as well as for its services for discovering new drugs.

EntreMed announced Campbell's appointment yesterday, as well the promotion of Edward Gubish from executive vice president for research and development to president and chief operating officer.

Both will report directly to EntreMed Chief Executive Officer John Holaday.

Joanna Horobin, EntreMed's executive vice president for commercial development, will continue to report to him, Holaday said.

Horobin has been leading the company's efforts to negotiate a deal with a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company to share in the development costs of one of its experimental drugs.

The appointments come as EntreMed starts to move its three top drug candidates - Endostatin, Angiostatin and Panzem - into the second of the Food and Drug Administration's three stages of testing on humans.

Phase II testing, unlike Phase I safety testing, begins to determine the effectiveness of the drugs.

EntreMed's three lead product candidates all work at least in part by attacking the growth of tumor-feeding blood vessels.

The growth of such tiny vessels is known as angiogenesis. Drugs that block the process are known as anti-angiogenics.

Yesterday, Holaday said Campbell's new position and Horobin's job "fit hand in glove," with Horobin identifying how to "market, sell and position products."

Meanwhile, he said, Campbell will work to help the company make deals that go beyond Endostatin.

That is the drug Banc of America Securities analyst Maria Phillips has said is most likely to be the subject of the deal Horobin will be negotiating with a potential partner.

EntreMed has not been specific about exactly when it expects such a deal to be announced, but Phillips has said she expects it to come about mid-year.

Campbell and Holaday got to know each other in August when the two flew with a group of Maryland biotechnology company executives on a business-scouting trip to Scotland.

Yesterday, Campbell said he was attracted to EntreMed by what he called the vision of Holaday and the opportunity to work at a company that is making drugs to treat cancer without side effects.

"When I look at angiogenesis, there are a lot of naysayers out there," Campbell said. He said it reminds him of the skepticism with which Celera was greeted when that company announced it would sequence the human genome.

Shares of EntreMed closed yesterday at $20.12, down 13 cents on the Nasdaq stock market.

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